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Monday, June 16, 2014
SPECIAL REPORT: Bond in...Christensen out?
As rumors fly about Superintendent Christensen's job...
OUSD announces Bond vote on June 30th
|Black Monday crowd makes a statement|
A capacity crowd-all dressed in black as arranged for by the C.A.R.E. bond support group- showed up to the "Black Monday" June 16th Orange Unified School District School Board meeting to protest the delay in the OUSD Bond being placed on the OUSD Agenda.
With only two Agenda items- the Closed Session discussion of OUSD Superintendent Michael Christensen evaluation and the cancellation of the current Request for Qualifications/Proposals For Construction Management Services to reissue the Request and add "Program Management Services" to the construction services request,- the meeting seemed long in anticipation and short in action. Except where it counted.
However, it was the Bond and the Superintendent that was the topic of not only the meeting, but the days leading up to the meeting.
The Closed Session was scheduled from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. At 7:30 pm, the OUSD Administrators who sit in on the Closed Session returned to the Board room. The Trustees did not. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Still no Trustees.
With the long delay, the buzz in the Board Room then turned to the rumors that had been circulating around the Greater
Communities for the last week that a few Trustees were trying to oust popular Superintendent Michael
Christensen. As the delay continued, the
crowd braced for what many in the crowd feared would be a disastrous
announcement. Many of the Bond Supporters attribute Christensen as the driving
force in guiding the highly successful 2014 Bond process momentum to this
At 8:10 pm the Trustees finally returned to the Board room and after the meeting formalities, OUSD Board President John Ortega reported that there was no Closed Session decisions to report. The collective relief of the audience could be felt.
In April Superintendent Christensen's contract was extended until 2017. Ousting Christensen would require the OUSD Board to "buy-out" his contract costing OUSD Taxpayers close to $600,000 in educational tax dollars- all this before going to voters in November to ask for approval for a Bond.
It was in April 2011 that the OUSD Board bucked tradition and appointed then Deputy Assistant Superintendent Christensen to the Superintendent's post. Since OUSD's groundbreaking decision to make the district's financial leader the head of the school system, other district's across the state have followed OUSD's lead.
When the announcement of Christensen's appointment was made at the April 21, 2011 meeting, the Board room audience literally erupted in universal cheers and applause. Never in the memory of any long-time Board watchers has any Board appointment been met with such universal community approval. (CLICK ON: Christensen )
Winner of the 2010 GOPY-Greater
Orange Person of the Year
(Click on: GOPY), Christensen is universally admired by community
leaders, parents, teachers and support staff.
That universal admiration however appears to end at the OUSD Board Room
where apparently Christensen's evenhanded approach to all Board members does
not sit well with some Trustees who see themselves as the "chosen ones".
The implications of a Christensen ouster on the moral of the OUSD workforce and Greater
Orange Community-as well as the political ramifications
again show how self-centered and out-of-touch the self-described "chosen ones" appear to be. The last time a popular OUSD Superintendent was ousted by radical trustees was Dr. French. That sparked a community civil war
that ended with the 2001 Orange Recall. French's replacement- Barbara Van Otterloo
was never accepted and after the 2001 Recall was forced to retire by the new Citizen's Board that refused to buy her contract out. Otterloo was replaced
triumphantly by her predecessor...the ousted and beloved Dr. French.
As one Bond leader at the Monday night meeting stated "A vote to oust Christensen will produce an election scorecard for the next three elections."
As community speakers cleverly refused to be shut out from talking about the Bond because of the rules of the Special Meeting requiring comments on Agenda items only, OUSD President John Ortega announced that two new Special Meetings would be held on the next two consecutive Mondays- June 23rd and June 30th. He further announced that June 30th would be when the OUSD Board would place the Bond on the Agenda for a vote. August 8th is the deadline for measures to be placed on the November ballot.
Concerns then quickly shifted to the June 23rd meeting and the possibility of the continuation of the discussion of the "Superintendent's evaluation" during Closed Session and the question arose..."Is it possible that the OUSD Trustees will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?"
OU$D Bond WATCH 2014
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